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Moscow News: Mitvol Denies Shell Offered Him a Bribe

By Bojan Soc
09/08/2007 | Moscow News,№31 2007

Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of Russia’s Rosprirodnadzor environmental watchdog denied Thursday that he’d been offered a $50-million kickback by oil major Shell in exchange for halting environmental checks at the Shell-led Sakhalin-2 offshore oil and gas project in Russia’s Far East.

“I received no letter from Shell offering a $50-million bribe,” Mitvol told RIA Novosti.

On Thursday, Moscow’s Tvoi den tabloid carried an interview with Mitvol quoting him as saying that he had been approached by Shell and offered the money to suspend the checks.

The official did admit, though, that he had been approached by some middlemen, “but definitely not Shell” with a proposal “to meet in Switzerland” and discuss the issue.

The actual amount of money was never mentioned, he added.

“Why should I have asked how much they were ready to offer if I wasn’t going to take any of it?” the official said.

The official added that he had tried to explain to the author of the article that Shell was not involved in offering a bribe, but “apparently, the desire to write something sensational was stronger than the desire to write the truth.”

Mitvol also said that the project operator, Sakhalin Energy, did make an attractive job offer to a member of the inspection team, an employee of Russia’s Natural Resources Ministry.

The offer included a $30,000 monthly salary and authorization to run a $1.8 million budget for an advertising project. According to Mitvol, the employee, who’s making 40,000 rubles (slightly over $1,500) a month in his current job, rejected the offer.

Following a series of tough environmental checks and constant pressure from authorities, Shell and project co-owners Mitsui and Mitsubishi agreed in April to cede parts of their stakes in Sakhalin Energy to gas giant Gazprom, which eventually took control of the project as the majority shareholder. and its also non-profit sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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